Star-studded September

The Tamil film industry is seeing a golden run which began with Doctor and Maanaadu last year.
A still from the teaser of 'Ponniyin Selvan - 1'. (Photo | Youtube Screengrab)
A still from the teaser of 'Ponniyin Selvan - 1'. (Photo | Youtube Screengrab)

The Tamil film industry is seeing a golden run which began with "Doctor" and "Maanaadu" last year. This year, "Vikram" opened the box office door and rose to the top of the collection chain. Dhanush followed up with "Thiruchitrambalam" and now, has another release coming up in Selvaraghavan’s "Naane Varuvean" (which has an impressive trailer). September is also a key month for two other filmmakers. Gautham Menon’s Simbu starrer "Vendhu Thanindhadhu Kaadu" released on the 15th and like what happens to every GVM film, this film too saw its fair share of criticism initially, but it has also been garnering a huge round of praises, and consequently, box-office numbers! And not without reason.

Every creator goes through their journey of trial by fire but not everyone has the consistency to keep chiselling away at the edges to arrive at their core form. Gautham Menon has set a new benchmark for himself and for his combination with Simbu (they may very well become the equivalent of the K Balachander-Kamal Haasan combo who did a record 30 films together). VTK is also important for Menon’s collaboration with AR Rahman whose songs have been effectively used to lift the scenes especially in the high points of Muthu’s journey. Rahman’s background score is filled with high octave violins and soul-stirring flutes, and there’s the surprise rap by Neeraj Madhav (whose role and performance stands shoulder to shoulder with the superlative Silambarasan).

When a film does well, it gives life to several talents and of course it also lends a new ‘status’ to its producer, in this case, Vels Films International’s Dr Ishari Ganesh. It’s always good to see newer teams get into film production and give the industry a push towards where it needs to go, towards better cinema and setting better filmmaking standards.

It almost feels like Gautham Menon’s success heralds the dawn of a new era of films which can have realism and suspension of disbelief travel on parallel tracks and converge at a midpoint where it gives that elevated sense of achievement for the protagonist and therefore, the viewer. Post VTK, action films may no longer need to cater to previous rules and a realistic portrayal will see its own audience. Menon’s hit film may also be a sign of what is to come a week later now. September is indeed an interesting month as the filmmakers who vie for our attention after GVM are none other than Selvaraghavan and Mani Ratnam. The stars in those films add their might to this theatrical revelry and South Indian cinema is seeing golden innings in the movie halls as various language versions of "Ponniyin Selvan" are also releasing simultaneously.

VTK contains Tamil (the popular Thoothukudi dialect at that), Hindi and Malayalam as spoken languages, and other than Telugu in which the film was dubbed, it’s the Tamil version that got released with subtitles across India and abroad. This is an interesting revamped format which helps a regional film see momentum beyond its own borders. With VTK, Naane Varuvean and PS1, September sees the following names demand our time inside the cinemas.

Let’s take a ‘roll call’ and not in any particular order (except for the name that precedes everyone else for obvious reasons): Mani Ratnam, AR Rahman, Gautham Menon, Selvaraghavan, Yuvan Shankar Raja, Vikram, Simbu, Aishwarya Rai, Dhanush, Trisha, Karthi, Jeyam Ravi... Add Prakashraj, Yogi Babu, Sarathkumar, Radikaa, Prabhu, Jayaram and the rest of the actors in each film, and add the technicians (editors like Sreekar Prasad, Antony Bhuvan Srinivasan, cinematographers Ravi Varman, Om Prakash, and Siddharth Nuni, and others like Brinda Master who did PS-1 and the by-now iconic ‘Mallipoo’ song in VTK, the art directors and costume designers and other technicians who make a film what it is). You get what I’m saying? Close to a hundred plus talents (and stars and directors at that) have made this September for Tamil cinema, an unforgettable one for the box office globally.

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